If you don't like people

If you do not like people then RETAIL is not for you.

When we start our retail presentations or training sessions then we most of the time start with these words: “If you do not like people then retail is not for you”.

Personally If find people fascinating: I always wonder what happened to them just before they came into the shopping centre or the grocery shop, or why they buy the most outrageous ice-cream concoction in the ice-cream shop.   I always wonder why they are chomping their food down, why are they in a rush, why are they rude to staff members, why are they flirting with each other or why they walk so slowly, and why they do not see the big advertising board right in front of them?

I was shopping this week and observed an elderly couple, walking around painstaking slowly. She took the lead and he held onto the trolley for dear life with trembling hands. I couldn’t help but wonder about their story. Not long after, I found myself in the line behind the elderly couple at the checkout.
The staff member greeted then with the robotic “how are you today” as she turned her body away from them, following the correct procedure - just on auto pilot.

Then the lady answered: “Not well today, but I am sure you do not really want to know?” The staff member did not answer her, it was an awkward moment for all the customers in line waiting to pay. The elderly woman again repeated by saying again: “You most probably don’t want to know”.

All customers in the line were staring the staff member down, challenging her to say something, anything.  She just ignored the woman, settled in behind the cash register and started to ring up her groceries.

People do not come to your store to merely buy stuff. They are human beings coming in with a lot of baggage, with expectations, with sadness and with happiness and we have a responsibility to treat people as humans before we serve them as customers. You may agree with or believe this is just how the cookie crumbles.

Everyday we have moments where we can make a difference to someone out there. Serving them, just answering them, looking them in the eye, respecting them and laughing with them. And that is the most valuable customer service moment you have in your store.

And if you think we are exaggerating, let me leave you with this thought: Tom Peters, one of the great living Management Thinkers, recently published his BIG SIX – motivational    quotations that meant the most to him. Read the list carefully and you will see the central theme is one of humility, sacrifice and service. It is not old-fashioned – it is about LEADERSHIP.

  • “We do no great things, only small things with great love.”—Mother Teresa
  • “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble.”—Helen Keller
  • “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”—Anne Frank
  • “Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.”—Churchill
  • “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”—Henry David Thoreau
  • “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”—Victor Frankl

Working in Retail may seem trivial and mundane, and in many ways it is. But no matter how trivial it seems, the opportunity to do good and to be great hides in the minutiae of daily interactions between humans for us to discover our soul.

[Written by Moonyeen Price]


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